Miloš Zeman, a social democrat former prime minister, was shown by interim results to have won the January 25 and 26 2013 second round of the Czech Republic’s presidential elections, with about 55 per cent to conservative foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg’s estimated 45 per cent, based on a 98 per cent count of votes.
Zeman had a very narrow lead over Schwarzenberg in the first round on January 11 and 12, in which seven other candidates were eliminated.
The Czech Republic’s new president will take office on March 8 after Vaclav Klaus steps down. These elections are the first in which the Czech Republic’s about eight million voters directly elect the head of state, who has little direct say in the day-to-day running of the country but who appoints judges and designates candidate prime ministers after parliamentary elections.
Zeman (68) is seen as largely pro-Europe, supporting EU enlargement, but the president has no steering role in foreign policy.
He is credited with the revival of the social democratic party after he became its leader in the early 1990s. Zeman was prime minister from 1992 to 2002.
Turnout in the second round was expected to be about 59 per cent, slightly more than the first-round turnout.